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Feelings & Guardian Angels: How I Came Back To Life

You can't cherry-pick your feelings. It's an all-or-nothing deal.

Feelings and angels.

Darlings. Kittens. Babes. Bitches. Listen.

I'm going to get ~vulnerable~ with you today.

If you follow my work you know that ~vulnerability~ is my beat—but honestly, it's been a minute since I've ~really~ let you in on—well, anything.


Because I'm burned out? Exhausted? Over the sick and twisted industry of writing and publishing?

While all the above might very well be true—none of them are the reason why I haven't bestowed you with a deeply personal essay in about five months (the longest stint of over-sharing abstinence I've ever endured).

The truth is I couldn't deliver you the raw and real content you deserve, because I couldn't access my feelings for several months. I guess that's what happens when life comes at you hard. You get stuck in hyper-vigilance. You go on autopilot, numbly, dumbly putting out the slew of forest fires blazing in the distance, trying to protect everyone and everything from the deadly flames threatening to burn your life down.

But hey—numb dumbness can serve as a useful coping mechanism when shit gets *really* dangerous. I mean if you processed the reality that everything you've ever loved could be destroyed by a deadly fire—you wouldn't have time to rush off and attempt to rescue what's left.

Fire feelings.

But what happens after the flames have been tamed? What happens when the fire has been rendered manageable? Hell, it might have very well been put out!

We remain as armed and as guarded as the British Soldiers that stand in front of Buckingham Palace, that's what happens. At least that's what happened to yours truly.

Dead inside became my default. It's hard to write raw personal essays when you're dead inside.

Here's the thing, 2023 did a number on me. So many fires to put out. Fire after fire after fire after fire. I had to go cold in order to stave off the burn. I won't get into all the gory details of what went down right now, but in a nutshell

I was heartbroken. I felt like I'd lost everything and decided to do the unthinkable: left my most revered muse, New York City, and moved back home with my parents. In Florida.

I became disillusioned by my job in media and decided to switch careers.

My thyroid blew out.

My psychotropic meds stopped working.

Two best friendships that I thought were lifelong came to a screeching halt. Heartbreak and betrayal grew so big there wasn't much space for anything else.

I cried so much I could fill all the claw-foot tubs in every hotel in Paris.

I rethought my purpose, my career, my creativity, my writing, my art, my entire fucking life.

Then came my greatest fear: the person I love the most in the entire world—my rock, my person, my blood—got diagnosed with a horrible, terrible, deadly sickness. The whole family was in crisis. I packed up my shit, said goodbye to the amazing friends I'd cultivated deep connections with whilst in Florida, and practically overnight moved to LA to deal with said crisis.

I had to navigate my way down a scary path—one where my deepest fears glowered and wrapped around me like vines—*without* the support of my friends and the New York queer community that's been my lifeline for as long as I can remember. I'd never felt so alone.

But look: I'm a resilient bitch. I knew I'd survive. As long as I stayed numb and dumb I could withstand anything.

fire zara

Little by little, the dust began to settle. Things started to calm down. The sickness was as bad as ever, but I trusted the treatment now. And I fell in love with life coaching, started building a practice. I watched my clients glow and beam like neon signs after helping them unlock their deepest desires. Things were falling into place. And most shockingly; LA was starting to feel like home.

But still, I felt like I wasn't really living. Like this wasn't really *my* life. I was removed, observing the scenes as they played out, like a patron of the theatre. Normally I'm on stage, front and center, the lead role of my life. I wasn't on the stage anymore. I was sitting on the sidelines safely watching it all unfold from the back row.

And no matter what happened, good or bad; exhilarating or dangerous; tragic or beautiful—this low-grade, dull sadness followed me around everywhere I went. It felt like one of those exes you never want to see ever again but somehow always ends up at the same bar as you, the same party as you, riding on the same goddamn subway as you.

And then one night, I met up with a new friend. An LA friend. We were slugging sake and discussing life and art and everything in between—when suddenly they said something simple but powerful.

"I went through so much. There was so much darkness for so long. That's when I made the choice to actually live—I decided to really, really live." Their voice was still and stoic like a Roman statue. The kind of tone that's quiet and strong and has nothing to prove.

I shivered and stared into my chocolate brown Mary Janes. "Wow."

"Do you know what I mean?" They asked, raising a brow.

"More than you know," I answered, sinking deeper into the couch.

My LA friend and I went to meet my friend from New York who was in town on vacation. We met up at a cheerful West Hollywood bar. The bar was made up of the most delightful ingredients. An enthusiastic karaoke machine held court in the corner. The pretty-faced bartender had a vibrant, warm smile and Christmas lights were strung up everywhere.

I quickly spotted my friend from New York perched at the bar, draped in a gorgeous faux sheepskin, wavy hair framing her glittery eyes. I hugged her tightly. Her lust for life is contagious and I wanted to be infected with her fabulous zeal. She's one the most joyous humans I've ever encountered, to be honest. She's always down to try anything, eager to participate in whatever activity life throws at us. Oh, look they're playing beach volleyball! Let's play! Oh, let's try that dessert! Oh, there's karaoke, let's belt out Alanis Morissette at the top of our lungs even though we're both tone-deaf Jews who can't sing for shit!

I ordered a Sauvignon Blanc and watched my friend from LA and my friend from New York interact. They looked so present, so alive. As shiny as the freshly waxed Ferraris littering Beverly Hills.

I became very aware of my sadness—even though it wasn't tangible—I could feel its presence and was tired of its shitty energy dragging me down. Can't you get your own DAMN life? I snapped at it. Then I remembered what a shitty listener Sadness is, so I snapped at myself, instead. Why can't I teem with life and energy like my friends? Why am I always sad? I'm SO SICK of being so fucking SAD all the time.

I stomped to the bar patio desperate for air.

That's when the familiar odor of Virginia Slims and Aqua Net permeated the patio. I smelled her before I saw her. I turned around and there she was.


My guardian angel.

Standing there in her perfectly pressed peacoat, reeking of hairspray and cigarettes and the New Jersey Turnpike.

For those of you who *don't* know, I have a guardian angel named Sharon. She's got terrible style—she thinks Coach bags are cool and her favorite color is fucking navy. But whatever she lacks in the fashion department, she makes up for in the wisdom department. Often, I don't like what she has to say. But I always listen. Because Sharon tells the truth. And the truth, I've learned, is the most sacred jewel of all. You must know the truth! You must honor the truth! Even if it's inconvenient, painful, or disruptive to the order of things, turns your life inside out. You must worship at the altar of the truth. Otherwise, you'll find yourself in real, irrevocable trouble. (Trust your lesbian big sister on that one).

"Zara," Sharon stage-whispered, unearthing a Virginia Slim from the pocket of her pleated Mom jeans, worn in earnest, not in irony like the cool kids of Gen Z.

I guzzled my white wine. "Yes?"

"You've had a rough year, kid."


She inhaled her cigarette and stared into the moon. "But ya know what?" Sharon roughly guffawed, her Jersey accent voluptuous and unapologetic.

I took her lead and adverted my gaze upward, toward the sky. The moon gleamed shiny and bright, like a hologram. It sat low in the milky dark sky as if it were eavesdropping on all the people pouring in and out of the bars, tumbling and gossiping and smoking and giggling their way down Santa Monica Blvd.

"But you know what?" Sharon purred, meeting my eyes.

I gulped. "What?" I braced myself for the inevitable truth bomb she was about to casually drop on me and my life for that matter.

"It's time to break outta survival mode, kiddo," she muttered, wistfully.

"Is that what this melancholy-dead-inside feeling is? Survival mode?"

"It's exactly what it is, Zara. You shut down. I get it. You had to. It was all too much."

"But if I'm shut down then why am I so GODDAMN sad! WHY AM I DEPRESSED?" I howled into the holographic Hollywood moon, my face as red as Britney Spear's catsuit in the "Oops I Did It Again" music video.

britney feelings

"Finally! The beast is unleashed! Let it out, baby!" Sharon bellowed throwing her fists in the air. "You feel sad, yes. But your sadness isn't passionate sadness," she stamped her cigarette into the pavement, aggressively, the sensible heels of her round-toe (gag) boots, making a loud, theatrical CLANK sound with every stomp. "Your sadness is an empty dull sadness—" Sharon paused, cryptically. Between her pregnant pauses and her over-the-top cigarette smashing—I began to wonder if she'd been taking acting classes or something.

"Have you been taking acting classes?" I couldn't help but pipe.

"Actually, yes," she grinned.

"I say this from a place of pure love—but Sharon! Babe. You gotta tone it down a bit. It's more powerful if you're real."

Sharon rolled her eyes. "I was going to say the same thing to you—but you rudely interrupted me."

I ignored her dig because my heart felt like it had done a bump of too-strong coke. It was suddenly jittery and unpredictable. "I'm more powerful when I'm real? What do you mean?" I began to panic. "Are you saying I'm not real?" The truth is, dear reader, I've always secretly feared that I'm not a real girl, but a cartoon girl, rather, which is why touch screens never work for me, they don't recognize my fingerprints. It's destabilizing. I don't talk about it much.

cartoon chick

*Art above by Sam Yang.

"Listen," Sharon husked, interrupting my weird spiral of utterly insane and doom-inducing thoughts. "What I mean is this— this detached sadness, you have right now? It's not good for you. It's like the low-grade depression a person experiences when they've gone numb. You don't like it because being numb is not you. Feelings are your superpower. Your gift!" She stretched out her hands, studying her square-tipped French manicure for a moment before continuing, "You kid, you're passionate. You're one of the most passionate humans I oversee here on earth. You teem with life. You teem with energy. You are curious. You are creative because you feel IT ALL! And you are very sad and empty right now you aren't embracing your real self. Your real, essential self that loves to fuckin' feel. But you're terrified to feel because you're terrified of being vulnerable because of all the shit that went down this past year—and now you're as locked up as the diamonds in the Cartier store on 5th Avenue! You're not even really living."

I peered inside the bar, where my friend who had bestowed me with the wisdom of choosing to *really* live, just hours earlier, was passionately singing karaoke. I could tell by their body language they were really inside the song. Is there a better feeling than being inside of a song? I don't think so.

Suddenly I was overcome with a burst of wild emotion. I can't seem to find the right word to best describe the emotion I experienced—all I can say is that zapped through me like electricity. I wanted to cry and laugh and scream and crawl inside of every single song I've ever loved all at once. I wanted to sing karaoke! And I do many things. Karoeke is not one of them.

"Sharon—? What did you do?" I cried, aghast. Had she performed a spell on me? I no longer felt as locked up as a blood diamond on the fifth avenue. I felt open, porous. Like I was absorbing every color and sound and vibration in plain sight.

"I didn't do anything, kiddo. Not a damn thing. I just reminded of you who you are. You made the choice to come back to life. I saw ya flip the switch."

"You know guardian angels are a lot like life coaches," I proclaimed proudly. "We don't tell people what to do. We help people listen to themselves so they can make choices that light them up. You and I—" I smiled smugly "have more in common than meets the eye. You know I'm a life coach now."

"You might be a life-coach kid. But you can't do this!" Sharon crooned taking off into the 2 a.m. Hollywood sky, flying, at eye level with the stars, heading to wherever it is that guardian angels go once they've reminded a detached sad girl who the fuck she is.

I cackled at the obscurity of it all and rushed back into the bar, eager to join my friends to drink and sing and feel it all.


On the Uber ride home tears streamed down my face. I felt like I was looking at Los Angeles with fresh eyes. Like I'd been in some kind of coma and was seeing the city fly by for the first time. The red lights looked like rubies, the streetlights rained gold over the highway, the palm trees swished as delicately as ballerinas.

As we made our way toward Santa Monica—I swear to Lana Del Rey I could smell the brine of the beach.

I suddenly remembered something I've always known, but temporarily had forgotten along the way. Maybe I had to forget it for a while because it was all too much.

But that's okay. I was grateful to have this sacred nugget of truth back in my jewelry box. And I'll share it with you. Right now. Here goes: feelings are guardian angels like Sharon. Only they live inside of each and every one of us. We don't need to wait for them to visit us. We can access them whenever we want. All we need to do is to *choose* to listen to them.

And just like Guardian Angels, their function is to guide us into all the places we're meant to be in.

They tell us when something is bad for us and when something is good for us. Some feelings are excruciatingly painful and some feelings are pure bliss—but unlike a freelance job or a social outing—you can't cherry-pick the ones you want to engage with and toss the rest to the side.

Feelings are an all an all-or-nothing kind of gig. And I don't know about you: but I'm the kind of girl who'd rather have all of it than none of it. I lost sight of that for a while.

Because I've had some dark times, you see.

But now, in this very moment, I'm making the choice to live.

Like, really live.


Ready to fall in love with yourself and go after a life that lights you up for real? Learn more about one-on-one coaching with Zara or book a session today! Make 2024 the year you DO THE THING.

life coach feelings

Want to write like a bad bitch and live like one too? Book a one-on-one creative coaching session with Zara!

creative feelings


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